Ghetto Dances: The economic hardships were unrelenting

Onie Ndoro is a an IELTS tutor, ghostwriter and storyteller.

It was tense. Mai VaMaidei was in a “in a no- nonsense- mood”.

I had just arrived from work. The children were crowded in the kitchen doing their homework under candlelight.

The past two days had seen us with no  electricity and yet, not even one official from the power utility provider  had bothered to inform the residents about the blackout.

I had received my salary for the month and I had nothing to show for it. Nothing can be further from the truth, I was just as penniless as a beggar on the streets of Harare. The only difference was that the street beggar had no great expectations and was, therefore, free from the agony of misery and high blood pressure, very common commodities  on a payday for the majority of workers.

“Why is it that I have to ask you about your salary each time?” said Mai VaMaidei.

I opened my mouth to speak, closed it again and finally stammered in a voice that did not sound like mine.

“Let me explain,” I said.

Mai VaMaidei glared at me. I could see that whatever I was going to say, she was not going to swallow my words wholesome.

“Let me do a breakdown of how I spent the money in advance,” I said.

“Do you remember that I brought four chickens which I did not pay for. I also brought a crate of eggs, two blankets and also a handbag for you,” I said.

I was trying to remember everything. Each time trades people came selling products at our company premises, I always ended up borrowing like all of my colleagues. The vendors, ever smiling, were quick to offer us the products on credit and would promise to return and collect their money on payday.

On the dot, the vendors would return and collect their money. As far as I could see, these vendors were the only happy people and had devised simple but effective methods of earning money.

And each time they came to collect money, they seldom smiled. Business was business.

I remember that  each time  I paid the last creditor, I was always left penniless beyond measure. I always told myself that it was the last time I was going to borrow but I always ended up borrowing. Borrowing had become an addiction just like those junkies in the streets who were hooked on drugs.

My wife had warned me not to borrow on several occasions but I always ended up getting  neck-deep in debt.

“If you don’t have money, where do you think money for rent will come from?” she said.

I was quiet as mice as I was at a loss of words.

“You know as much as I do that business at the market is very low. There are too many vendors than customers these days?” She said. That was true, the economy was running on the back of vendors and the competition for customers was stiff.

We needed food in the house for a whole month.

Mai VaMaidei suddenly sat down in despair on the one good kitchen chair. I groaned. I could feel my heart bleeding as a result of the excessive strain of trying to make ends meet.

For the first time after a long time I took a good look at my wife. She was losing weight and she had dark marks under her eyelids  that were  not there before.

Mai VaMaidei was close to tears. I had to do something with my life.  My salary was reduced to just a few grocery items in the real sense.

“I am going to raise money for rent, food and all the bills,” I said reassuringly, even though I did not even believe myself.

She looked at me askance, “By that you mean you are going to borrow more and plunge us deep into debt,” she moaned.

 I was deep in thought. I had tried everything to escape this rat race but it was just like I was moving in circles. I had tried to apply for other better jobs but all those doors were shut in my face.

“I have told you several times not to borrow anymore, now look where this is getting us into,” she said.

By now I was not even sure if it was worth it, to continue reporting for work. The long hours I spent at work did not correspond with the peanuts I was earning.

I once saw a wounded lion at Chipangali Game Reserve.  The experience was nerve wrecking. The lion looked desperate and dangerous. Somehow, I felt like that lion. I was cornered. The economic hardships were unrelenting.

  • Onie Ndoro is a an IELTS tutor, ghostwriter and storyteller. For feedback:  Twitter@Onie90396982/email:[email protected] 0773007173


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